Police and Fire

Update: SOMA Justice Members Question Handling of Shoplifting Arrest at Target on Springfield Ave

Update: NJ101.5 posted video from the incident on YouTube here on January 18. Read NJ101.5’s story here. Village Green subsequently contacted Union Police for the video and has been directed to file an Open Public Records Act request.

The arrest of  a 29-year-old woman at the Target store located on Springfield Avenue in Union has elicited concern from members of SOMA [South Orange-Maplewood] Justice, a local activist group on Facebook.

Union Police reported that two off-duty officers arrested the woman as she allegedly attempted to exit the store with $855 worth of shoplifted items January 9 at around 7 p.m., contacting Union police headquarters for backup when the woman resisted arrest.

South Orange resident Jaclyn Nayar, a member of SOMA Justice, posted to Facebook that she had witnessed the arrest (but not the woman attempting to exit the store). She noted that the arrest occurred in front of two young children, one of whom was yelling, “Get off my mommy!”

Nayar had posted on Tuesday evening: “I just got home from the Vauxhall Target where a woman of color with two small children was tackled to the ground at the front entrance by two white male cops.”

Nayar told Village Green that the children looked to be 18 months (a girl) and 5-6 years (a boy) in age. She said that the toddler was being held by another woman who was with the alleged shoplifter.

In a post that was representative of many others in the SOMA Justice group, another member commented, “If she wasn’t posing a physical threat to anyone, she shouldn’t have been wrestled to the ground. At all, let alone in front of her kids. The dollar amount of what she shoplifted doesn’t matter. The way excessive force was used by the police in this situation is not surprising, but still really frightening and unacceptable.”

SOMA Justice members were planning a protest.

Staff at the local store directed Village Green to a Target media hotline, saying they could not comment on the incident. Target has not yet responded to a request from Village Green for comment. However, in response to a post by SOMA Justice member Melanie Conklin on a Target Facebook page, a Target associate named Allison responded, “We’re committed to creating a safe & secure experience for our stores. On Tuesday evening, our security team called Union Police to our Union North store. The authorities apprehended and took a guest into custody for attempting to shoplift more than $800 of products.”

Union police report that the alleged shoplifter, Iman Barnes, was transferred at 9:50 p.m. from Union Police to the Secaucus Police on a warrant for Secaucus.

Read the full Union PD release, prepared by Capt. Scott Breslow, here:

Union Police Department had a uniformed officer working off-duty security at the Target store, 2235 Springfield Ave., in the Vauxhall section of town. A little after 7 PM on Tuesday January 9th, a Target employee alerted the officer that they were watching a shoplifter and that she was getting ready to leave the store. This officer alerted another off-duty police officer who was working in the same complex and the 2 of them stopped the shoplifter as she was exiting the store.

The 2 officers determined that she had a lot of merchandise that was in her shopping cart that she did not purchase. At that time they attempted to place handcuffs on her and arrest her for the shoplifting. The woman did not cooperate and resisted the officer’s attempts to handcuff her. The officers then contacted police headquarters and asked for a patrol car to respond to help them. Patrol officers responded and observed the officers trying to arrest the woman, who was now trying to kick the officers. The officers were able to get her handcuffed and transported to police headquarters. It was determined that the woman, Iman Barnes, had left the store with $855 worth of unpaid merchandise, which was returned to the store.

Ms. Barnes, age 29, from William St., Orange, New Jersey was charged with shoplifting and resisting arrest. Ms. Barnes later was found to have a warrant from the Secaucus Police Department and Secaucus Officers came to our headquarters and took custody of her at 9:50 PM.

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